FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Annette Majerowicz, 847-977-4434, firstname.lastname@example.org
SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Environmental Voters Education Fund (EnviroVoters Ed Fund) today responded to draft maps from the California Citizens Redistricting Commission (CCRC). California is currently redrawing the lines of the state’s Congressional, State Senate, State Assembly, and State Board of Equalization seats, which takes place every 10 years.
“This is a once-in-a-decade opportunity for Californians to shape the future of our state,” said Mike Young, Political and Organizing Director, California Environmental Voters Education Fund. “But the draft maps we’ve seen so far from the Commission are deeply concerning. There is much that is missing from these maps, so much so that it seems like key parts of the state have been disregarded or ignored in this process.”
The redistricting process in California is led by a nonpartisan Commission. As the Commission draws the lines, they should work to keep “communities of interest” together, taking into account things such as proximity, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Earlier this month, they released draft maps for feedback and input; these maps must be completed and certified by December 27, 2021 and will shape how Californians are represented in government for the next decade.
“To put it plainly, these draft maps are a mess,” said Sam Sukaton, Redistricting Coordinator, California Environmental Voters Education Fund, who presented to the Commission in October. “This should be a call to action to the Commission to fix this situation and to every Californian to get involved in the process while there’s still time.”
Initial Draft Maps Disregard Community Input, Key Communities of Concern
Some of EnviroVoters’ key takeaways from the initial draft maps include the following:
- Cities in the West San Gabriel Valley are split between 2 House districts; EnviroVoters echoes the Asian Pacific Islander community’s demands that Alhambra, San Gabriel, and Monterey Park be united with Pasadena and the Angeles National Forest. This would maintain an Asian Pacific Islander-plurality district connecting the communities who use the San Gabriel National Monument as the existing 27th Congressional District does.
- EnviroVoters joins with civil rights, community organizing, and environmental organizations in urging the CCRC to draw their next set of maps with state and federal Voting Rights Acts at top of mind to expand the ability for Black, Asian Pacific Islander, and Latinx communities to elect candidates of their choice across the state, and feels these drafts don’t meet that standard.
- In San Diego, Fallbrook and cities along the inland San Diego I-15 corridor are drawn together with the Tri-Cities and the south coast of Orange County. EnviroVoters strongly advocates that Fallbrook be removed and the North Coast San Diego Congressional seat be extended along the I-5 corridor as far as UC San Diego. This would unite coastal communities dependent on beach use and tourism. These communities, while living downstream of oil fields in Long Beach and North Orange County, still have to deal with inevitable pollution problems like the recent Huntington Beach oil spill.
- In good news, the Salton Sea is included in one House district for the first time since 2000. The Imperial and Coachella Valleys are home to a working-class, historically disenfranchised Latinx population living next to what’s been called “a slow-moving environmental disaster” that requires specific and attentive federal and state stewardship.
Northern California and the Sierra:
- A North Coast district running from Marin to Del Norte is maintained at every level, but splits the Karuk Tribe’s historic lands, rather than uniting them in the western coastal district by splitting Siskiyou County and Sonoma County as requested by EnviroVoters, the California Native Vote Project, the Environmental Protection Information Center, and most importantly, by Karuk and Yurok Tribal leadership.
- While EnviroVoters applauds the creation of Sierra Nevada Congressional and legislative districts running from Inyo County up through Nevada County, we remain concerned that the Sierra districts dip into the Central Valley to take in Fresno (in the Assembly) Modesto (in the House seat) and all of Stanislaus County (in the State Senate seat) undercutting Sierra residents’ pleas for local self-determination and stewardship of public lands.
Need for Environment, Climate, and Conservation to be Centered in Redistricting Process
Redistricting is an opportunity for Californians to advocate for their needs, struggles, and values — and key among these must be environmental issues. When communities are able to define themselves by their environmental concerns such as a nearby river or toxic site, they determine which candidates will successfully win votes in their communities.
EnviroVoters Ed Fund was the first environmental organization in the nation to engage in the redistricting commission process as far back as 2010 and has brought dozens of groups to the table to engage. They are currently partnering with environmental groups, good-government advocates, civil rights groups, and community organizations around the state to highlight how environmental issues are a critical way to define “communities of interest.” Based on this outreach, EnviroVoters is highlighting the need to factor in the environment, climate change, and conservation to this process.
And since redistricting is only done every 10 years, the people who are elected to represent these new districts will determine how we respond to the climate crisis leading up to the 2030 IPCC deadline. Poll after poll demonstrates that Californians want their leaders to prioritize addressing the climate crisis.
“Communities across California are already grappling with a year-round fire season, another drought, and the lack of access to clean drinking water,” continued Mike Young. “And the future is clear: The climate crisis will be the defining issue of the next decade.”
Californians Urged Make Their Voices Heard, Weigh in on Draft Maps While There’s Still Time
In other states, district lines are drawn by the legislature. This process favors whatever party is in power and disregards the needs of local communities. In 2008, California voters supported the creation of a nonpartisan Commission.
The Commission is made up of 14 members, including five Republicans, five Democrats, and four members who are not affiliated with either of these two parties.
Since June of this year, the Commission has been holding hearings and gathering input from the public. Californians who are interested in getting involved in the redistricting process are encouraged to contact EnviroVoters.